The greatest story ever kids

Seeking the most-selected stories in children's Bibles, Stephen Smith of analyzed 33 Bibles available on Google Books that were published between 1831 and 2013. While Noah's ark and Jesus' birth proved to be most popular out of more than 400 stories, it seems that stories that emphasize morals and character are on the decline, while stories that emphasize theology are on the rise.

John Ortberg's church pays $9 million for multisite move

The latest wrinkle in the ongoing exodus from the mainline: multisite. John Ortberg's Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) overwhelmingly voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) this June—despite a $9 million penalty. Prompted in part by doctrinal disputes, the move was mainly meant to pave the way to five new campuses in five years. (The PC (USA) stalled over video preaching and competition for existing churches.) "We want to be part of a denomination that celebrates and accelerates our capacity to do this," explained MPPC. The 3,400-member church is not alone: Recent research by Leadership Network suggests nearly 1 in 10 Protestants now attend one of America's 8,000 multisite churches.

Sweden: Top Pentecostal pastor converts to Catholicism

Sweden's most influential pastor spent 30 years building a charismatic movement that reached dozens of nations with Bible schools, broadcasts, and books. Then Ulf Ekman, who retired from his 3,300-member megachurch in Uppsala last year, stunned his Livets Ord (Word of Life) movement in March by announcing he and his wife were converting to Catholicism. Ekman decided Livets Ord was "part of the ongoing Protestant fragmentation of Christendom" and wants to focus on Christian unity. Swedish Evangelical Alliance general secretary Stefan Gustavsson admires Ekman's integrity but noted, "One should not underestimate the pain and disillusion that this creates in many people today."

Bill Gothard resigns amid harassment investigation

Popular seminar speaker Bill Gothard resigned as president of his Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) after his board began investigating sexual harassment accusations from more than 30 women. IBLP said the 79-year-old, who drew 2.5 million people to his family-focused Basic Seminars but never married, explained that he "wanted to follow Matthew 5:23–24 and listen to those who have 'ought against' him." According to Recovering Grace (RG)—the website that published the women's stories—Gothard later held a 90-minute conversation with RG leaders to understand the pain his behavior had caused. "We are hopeful that Mr. Gothard will choose the long and difficult path of repentance," RG stated. Meanwhile, IBLP said it is "startled and concerned" by the allegations and will respond "in due time" after completing a "Christ-honoring review process."

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SBC faces first liability in sex abuse suit

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) faces an unusual legal loss in Florida. The state convention was ordered to pay $12.5 million to a 22-year-old man molested at age 13 by a former church planter. The SBC's bottom-up structure of authority, where autonomous churches (not the denomination) supervise leaders, usually gets such claims dismissed. But the victim's attorney argued that planters receive training and support from the denomination. SBC attorneys expect the verdict to be overturned on appeal, since the jury found that the offender was an independent pastor not hired by the convention. If upheld, the ruling could set a precedent for future lawsuits. Either way, the SBC's Florida director told Baptist Press, "We cannot let this case hinder our efforts to support church planting efforts in our state."

Adamant stances in the home of the Scopes trial

Faculty overwhelmingly issued the first no-confidence vote against a Bryan College president in school history after trustees clarified the school's Statement of Belief to mean that Adam and Eve were historical persons not created from existing life forms. (One trustee resigned over the change.) Faculty told media they were more upset with how the change was implemented than with what it said. The administration "does not consult faculty when it makes crucial decisions," professor of natural sciences Stephen Barnett told the student paper. "It has no obligation to do so, but effective leadership should . . . involve stakeholders in decisions that affect them." The board said it "stands fully" with the president.

Anglican seminary's olive branch breaks

One board member resigned and another withdrew support for Nashotah House, a theologically conservative Anglo-Catholic seminary, after it invited Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to speak in May. Students prompted the invitation, saying they wanted her to see the harmony between Episcopalians and members of the Anglican Church in North America. But conservatives take issue with Jefferts Schori for supporting openly gay bishops and for suing dioceses and parishes that have left the denomination. The furor was tempered when one of the students who asked for the invitation died suddenly; Jefferts Schori's planned chapel speech was switched to a eulogy.

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Want refugee status? Bone up on Paul

A Chinese Christian is getting a new chance for asylum in America after an appeals court overturned an immigration judge's denial. The judge had quizzed Chang Qiang Zhu on the apostle Paul: Zhu could explain that Paul was a disciple of Christ who persecuted Christians and later converted to Christianity after being blinded on the road to Damascus. But the judge found Zhu's answers "hesitant" when asked what year Paul converted to Christianity and what form of persecution Paul had used. Requiring such specific details isn't allowed because persecuted Christians often lack access to religious education, the State Department has said. The case is the latest example of how immigration boards often deny refugee status based on religious knowledge—and how courts continue to reverse such rulings, saying knowledge is not the same as faith.

"Praise God for her life."

Steve Saint, after Dayuma, the first convert from the Amazon tribe that martyred Saint's father and four other Gates of Splendor missionaries, died in March. Dayuma helped Nate Saint and Jim Elliot begin their short-lived but legendary missionary work in Ecuador, and helped Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot convert the Auca to Christianity. She was later baptized (left) at Wheaton College.

"We were heartbroken."

Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, after $600,000 in offerings (including $200,000 in cash) was stolen in March from the safe of America's largest congregation. The Houston megachurch and Crime Stoppers offered a $25,000 reward for clues.

Adoptions: Down But More Diverse

International adoptions by American parents have hit their lowest rate since 1992, dropping 18 percent in fiscal 2013 to 7,094 (a third of 2004's record high of 22,991). Yet they are also broadening beyond infant girls:

1in10: Kids adopted in 2004 who were 5 years or older

4in10: Kids adopted in 2013 who were 5 years or older

1in 3: Kids adopted in 2004 who are boys

1in2: Kids adopted in 2013 who are boys

Ukraine has replaced Russia as the third-largest source of adoptions by U.S. parents (438 versus 250 in 2013). Russia, now No. 7, had been No. 3 or higher since 1999.

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